Tuesday, October 02, 2018

HIstory of small parties, leadership, and Prop Rep

MP Alleslev crosses the floor: "getting a new boss"?
So British Columbia last year produced a minority government in which a minor party gained a notable degree of power. Recently the New Brunswick election produced a situation where minor parties are negotiating for influence. And while Quebec did not by a long shot produce a minority parliament last night, it clearly does have a mature four-party system for the time being.

Apart from the usual appalling responses from politicians eager to mislead voters about the nature of parliamentary democracy  ("I have a mandate!"), and too often from journalists who don't seem to know any better, there has been some interesting speculation on why Canada seeing an upsurge of minor parties in a system that seems to favour two-party dynamics.

Andrew Coyne thinks it's all another argument for proportional representation -- it was nice to see and hear the scepticism from Chantal H├ębert on the "At Issue" panel.  But at other time Coyne grasps the real problem in Canadian politics is the absurd dictatorial power of party leaders and the suicidal deference ordinary MPs show to leaders (and the unelected thugs in the leaders' office).  It think his second thought is the truer one.

All parties are coalitions.  Liberals in B.C are not identical to Liberals in Newfoundland, Conservatives in Alberta are not interchangeable with Conservatives in Ontario. (And the same in provinces: consider the differences between rural and urban Conservatives, or anglophone and non-anglophone Liberals.   But when there is only one viewpoint in an elected party --  the leader's -- all those diverse MPs in a caucus might as well be identical. Voting for no-hope minor parties is the only way voters have of having some diversity in their parliaments. 

PR, unfortunately, magnifies the problem of unaccountable leaders.  If we have to give our votes to parties, and they get to appoint party representatives in proportion to the popular vote,  then inevitably the MPs are even more beholden to the party that appointed them.  You have have two or three independent minds in a parliament, but it's still not the diversity we need.
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